Start Where You Are: Using Program Data to Learn, Manage & Report

Editor’s note: My colleague Deb Stephenson, an advisor to nonprofits on the design and implementation of information systems and a genius at diagnosing and solving technology problems, and I co-authored this post. With all the talk about nonprofits needing to prove their impact and stories about “big data”, pressure to keep up is prompting some … Read more

Making Program Evaluation More Accessible to Nonprofits

I just finished teaching a 2-evening Program Evaluation course at California State University East Bay. This month, I engaged students in a quasi-debate fueled by a 2-part SSIR essay arguing that nonprofit service providers should NOT evaluate their own program outcomes. Because they lack social science research expertise and face conflicts of interest in reporting … Read more

April 2015 Newsletter

Most institutional funders these days expect grantees to document and report their programs’ progress. They expect organizations to regularly monitor their own performance to better understand what’s working and to employ these lessons to improve program outcomes for clients and achieve greater social impact. A new Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) report describes what foundations … Read more

Disconnect Between Funders & Grantees on Evaluation

Most institutional funders these days expect grantees to document and report their programs’ progress. They expect organizations to regularly monitor their own performance to better understand what’s working and to employ these lessons to improve program outcomes for clients and achieve greater social impact. A new Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) report describes what foundations … Read more

October 2014 Newsletter

What Does “Evidence” Really Mean? Every few months, I read an article or blog post about “evidence-based practices”—and particularly about what constitutes “evidence”. Last year, I read a provocative two-part essay in Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) arguing that nonprofits should NOT evaluate their own work and should leave the creation of “evidence” to the … Read more

What Does “Evidence” Really Mean?

It seems I see a new blog post or article every day on Randomized Control Trials, Evidence-based Practices and what kinds of program evaluation yield acceptable “proof” of impact. A provocative two-part essay in Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) last year argued that nonprofits should NOT evaluate their own work and should leave the creation … Read more